NetBeans: The IDE for All Developers

by Dana Nourie

The NetBeans integrated development environment (IDE) has been the IDE of choice for many Java developers for some time. Over the years, it has improved tremendously in terms not only of speed and execution but in functionality. These days, the NetBeans IDE is not only fast and easy to use, but it is aimed at all developers, not just Java developers.

More Languages

NetBeans IDE 6.0 Beta 1 supports more languages than ever before -- and more than most other IDEs out there. Now, NetBeans provides support for C++, Ruby, JRuby, and Ruby on Rails, as well as for Ajax. In addition, Web site developers, even those who are used to using little more than HTML, will be pleasantly surprised by the many drag-and-drop widgets that allow them to create not only static web pages but also dynamic content, all without having to learn another programming language.

Dreamweaver by Adobe has become a popular IDE for Web designers, and it now also includes some Ajax widgets through the Spry framework. With the jMaki plug-in for the NetBeans IDE, you not only have access to drag-and-drop Spry widgets but also those from Yahoo, jMaki, Google, Dojo, and Scriptaculous. If you're not familiar with these frameworks, that's not a problem. You don't need to understand the framework to use the drag-and-drop widgets in NetBeans with jMaki. Even if you still prefer to do your basic site design in Dreamweaver, you can move the CSS file into NetBeans and then easily add dynamic functionality for everything from database access to RSS feeds with drag-and-drop widgets. You can also add more widgets or customize your own if you care to learn a little more about these widgets.

You can use widgets with a number of languages, such as JavaServer Pages (JSP), Ruby, PHP, and Phobos. Currently, you can not just use a widget on an HTML page, but you can save your pages as JSP pages and move those to your server with the files you need for the widgets. Just be sure that the server is Java platform enabled, which is a simple thing to do for your domain-hosting agency. Alternatively, if you'd rather, you can also save the pages as PHP, as long as your server has the PHP module installed.

Editor and GUI Improvements

Developers who are more code savvy will find big improvements with the NetBeans editor, which has had code completion for some time. Now, it does a much better job of intelligently guessing what lines of code need to come next and giving you long lists of options to choose from. With live templates and Surround With functionality, you can quickly enter commonly used blocks of code and focus on the business logic. This is true not only for writing code in the Java programming language but for a number of other languages as well.

Another big draw to the NetBeans IDE is the GUI builder. This drag-and-drop ability has made GUI development much easier and smoother. You can quickly set up a form that displays a database table and enables you to modify the database. Binding a database table to an existing form is as easy as dragging a table from the Runtime window onto a form. Developers who have written GUI and database code by hand will appreciate this functionality in a big way. Developers who have written Swing applications will find they save huge amounts of time by no longer having to write so many lines of code.

Learn to Use the NetBeans IDE

Over the next few months, we'll cover creating Web sites and applications using the NetBeans IDE with the jMaki plug-ins that make development so much easier.

Here are some articles, screencasts, and blogs to get you started right away:

jMaki NetBeans Plug-in
jMaki Demo Screencast
Enterprise Tech Tips: Introduction to jMaki
Creating Mashups With jMaki -- Display RSS Feed in jMaki Widgets
NetBeans IDE Documentation

The Java Technology Fundamentals blog provides articles each week that cover the Java platform for new developers or developers new to the Java platform. Watch this space for articles on how to use the Java programming language and create desktop applications and Web applications, as well as to get up-to-date information on events and courses.


I have grown to love NetBeans in its 6.0 pre-release incarnation and do not want to use anything else for most of my software development needs, both the GUI designer and the UML modeling exceed anything I've seen so far in comparable tools.

However, in my opinion it's still not the IDE for _all_ developers: If you're into using Python, in example, and want to have good tooling support in your IDE, NetBeans still is not the tool of your choice.

Posted by kawazu on October 17, 2007 at 05:09 PM PDT #


Jython is well supported with Coyote, though its not official.

Posted by Amit on October 18, 2007 at 07:09 PM PDT #

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